The Law Commission to Review Financial Remedy Orders
The Law Commission, a statutory independent body that keeps the law of England and Wales under review, has announced that they will be assessing the reform options for the laws governing finances on divorce and the termination of a civil partnership.
The Law Commission states that every year, tens of thousands of couples begin proceedings for separation which results in the use of financial remedy orders. Financial remedy orders can, and often include, the sale and transfer of property, maintenance for children, civil partners and spouses, and the splitting of pensions.
However, the laws which govern how financial remedy orders are used are now close to 50 years old. They are governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and are also included in the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Law Commission has now commenced a review into whether the current law is working effectively and delivering fair and consistent outcomes for divorcing couples.
The legal community, GA Solicitors’ family law team included, welcome this review as, with the law standing at nearly half a century old, there is a need to ensure it is working effectively for all parties and that clients get a fair result every time.
While conducting this review, the Law Commission will carry out a thorough analysis of the current laws on financial remedies. They aim to determine whether there are problems with the current framework which require law reform, and what that subsequent reform might look like in practice.
The project will not just have an England and Wales focus, as the Law Commission will also consider the financial orders made by courts in other countries and the laws governing them.
The review will conclude with the Law Commission publishing a scoping report in September 2024. For those who do not know, scoping papers are part of the ‘pre-consultation’ phase of a law reform project. This means a consultation on the proposed reforms is unlikely to appear until at least 2025.
The Law Commission’s analysis of existing law will consider whether there is potential for reform in specific areas such as:
- Whether there is a need for a clear set of principles, written in law, to give more certainty to divorcing couples. This is because there are currently discretionary powers given to judges over the division of financial assets
- Whether additional powers should be given to the courts to make orders for children above the age of eighteen.
- How maintenance payments for an ex-spouse or civil partner should work.
- What consideration the courts should give to the behaviour of separating parties when making financial remedy orders.
- Orders relating to pensions and whether they are overlooked when dividing the divorcing parties’ assets.
- The factors judges must consider when deciding which, if any, financial remedy orders to make.
In 2014, the Law Commission’s report, Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements, reviewed marital property agreements and other specific aspects of the financial consequences of divorce and dissolution. As part of the new review, the Law Commission will assess whether the issues covered in the Matrimonial Property, Needs and Agreements project need to be reviewed beyond the 2014 recommendations.
The Law Commission has already started preliminary work on this project, and we now wait until September of next year when we can see their findings and next steps. We will provide a further update at this point.
If you are looking for a family lawyer or family solicitor in Plymouth, then GA’s specialist team are here to help. They can advise on a wide range of family law issues, from divorce and finances to prenuptial and child arrangements.
Call the team today on 01752 203500 or email enquiries@GAsolicitors.com.
You can also read a recent family law article about custody disputes here.
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